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by Simha Rotem

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-300-05797-0
Publisher: Yale Univ.

 The candid, fast-moving memoir of a significant member of the Warsaw Ghetto's fighting underground. This is a marked contrast to Yitzhak Zuckerman's recent A Surplus of Memory (1993), also translated by Harshav. Although they worked together in the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), the personalities of ``Antek'' and ``Kazik,'' to use their noms de guerre, could not have been more different. The older Antek (Zuckerman), head of the ZOB, was a consummate organizer, diplomat, and archivist, while the younger Kazik (Rotem) was a lover and fighter. Never hesitating to lead dangerous street-level missions dressed as a Gestapo collaborator or to venture through the vast Warsaw sewer system, Kazik ``argued bitterly'' with Antek against saving piles of records from the burning ghetto: ``And why endanger ourselves? For papers? For `history'?'' Because he looked enough like a member of the Polish gentile working class among whom he had grown up, Kazik operated as a tough member of the Polish resistance who could intimidate uncooperative Jews and gentiles. After the ghetto was systematically destroyed, Kazik, in fact, didn't hesitate to join the anti-Semitic Armia Krajowa Polish underground in its short-lived uprising against the Germans. His chutzpah is at its best when he cajoles these partisans into keeping up the fight so as not to be shamed by the superior resistance of the city's underfed and undersupplied Jews. He had the sensitivity to feel guilty when gorging on a farmer's banquet while his family and friends starved in their bunkers, but this guileless man of action wasn't one to pass up a good meal, an opportunity for revenge, or a love affair. Such qualities color this memoir with the personal, so that it transcends a historical document. The record of these desperate, brave days is enriched by the injection of Kazik's salty, active personality. (4 pages photos, not seen).